For many English (EFL) teachers that come to Thailand, teaching in Bangkok is the last thing they want to do. With teaching opportunities all over Thailand, where are some of the best cities to teach and what is there to do there?
Chiang Mai – An hour’s flight north from Bangkok is Chiang Mai, the second most popular city in Thailand for teachers. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city with less of the traffic and pollution problems of Bangkok, yet still has job opportunities for teachers. The drawback with Chiang Mai is, even though the cost of living is about the same as Bangkok, the teaching jobs pay a lot less. Average salary for a full-time job in Chiang Mai is only 28,000-30,000 baht ($848-$900) a month, with schools and language schools being the main employers as well as opportunities at Chiang Mai University. However, you can pick up a part-time job or several private students and soon make a good teaching salary. The beauty of living and teaching in Chiang Mai though is the more relaxed atmosphere, the lovely town, the excellent restaurants, bars, and markets. And, of course, the friendly local people as well as the large expat population.
Chiang Rai – Another of Thailand’s popular cities is Chiang Rai in far north Thailand near the borders of Laos and Myanmar. With less than 65,000 people living in Chiang Rai, however, English teaching opportunities are low and salaries are in the 25,000-28,000 baht range (less than $850 a month). Chiang Rai is much cheaper than Bangkok though, with a one room apartment being as cheap as 2,500 baht a month ($75) so you can live much cheaper here. Main teaching jobs in Chiang Rai are at small government schools or private students, with the possibility of making around 35,000 baht ($1,030) a month if you have a part-time job on top of your full-time job. Chiang Rai isn’t for those who need to make money, but it is a lovely city if you want a relaxed lifestyle in a truly beautiful place.
Khon Kaen – Khon Kaen is another popular city for English teachers in Thailand. Located in Isaan, one of the poorest areas of the country, Khon Kaen is actually a regional center for education, so there are a fair few teaching opportunities here. The city has 150,000 inhabitants, beautiful temples, a fun night market, a lovely lake with daytime activities like boating and is the commercial center of Isaan. For teaching opportunities, you’ll find several language schools, government and bi-lingual schools and, of course, private students. I know several teachers who live there who have told me they’re turning private students away, they have so many interested in learning, which is a definite bonus if you’re going to be living on the average 25,000-30,000 baht per month salary.
Ubon Ratchathani – Ubon Ratchathani is another city in the Isaan region of Thailand. With 100,000 people living there, it’s a fair sized town with most teaching jobs being at government schools, language schools or at the Ubon Ratchathani University. Average salaries again are in the 28,000 baht range, but Ubon Ratchathani is much cheaper to live in than Bangkok and with a lot less of the distractions that cause people to spend money. Ubon Ratchathani still has wonderful restaurants, bars and cafes, a fun night market, interesting temples and some gorgeous national parks, if you like the outdoor life. A nice apartment starts at about 2,500 baht ($75), so, again, accommodation is cheap, a meal at a street stall is less than $1, and with good public transportation it’s cheap to get around too.
Phuket – Of course, many teachers want to live on Phuket, the island just off the coast of Thailand, as it’s one of Thailand’s most beautiful places. Gorgeous sandy beaches, intense blue ocean, fine restaurants, bars and trendy cafes, bookshops, good shopping, excellent supermarkets etc – something for everyone. The drawback to Phuket, like most places outside Bangkok, is that teaching salaries are low. There are several international schools that pay excellent salaries, but they usually hire teachers from outside Thailand. Teaching jobs otherwise are the usual government and language schools with private classes, and salaries from 25,000-35,000 baht a month. Apartments too are more expensive on Phuket with low-end being at least 5,000 baht a month and usually more than that, so your cost of living will be higher than somewhere like Khon Kaen or Chiang Rai. But, if you want to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and can live on a lower salary, go for it. It is simply gorgeous.
These are just five of the main cities you can teach English in Thailand outside of Bangkok, and there are many more. If you want a lifestyle away from the pollution, traffic and hectic lifestyle of Bangkok, one of them may be for you.